Barack Obama promised during his campaign to "clean up both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue" with "the most sweeping ethics reform in history." He declared that his administration would "have the toughest ethics laws of any administration in history." But shouldn't that moral commitment extend to all of those he appoints, too?
Recently, many people were nominated by Obama for high-ranking positions in his administration. Six of them were involved in tax evasion or other shady deals.
First, there was Bill Richardson for commerce secretary. Second, there was William J. Lynn III, slated for the No. 2 spot at the Defense Department. Third, there was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's appointment. Fourth, there was Nancy Killefer's nomination as the government's first chief performance officer. Fifth, there was former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who would have led the Department of Health and Human Services. Sixth, there was the nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis for labor secretary.
And now we have lucky No. 7. Obama has nominated David Ogden to be the deputy attorney general, the second person in command in the Justice Department. According to the American Family Association, as an attorney in private practice, Ogden has filed briefs opposing parental notification before a minor's abortion, the Children's Internet Protection Act and the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. He also has litigated many obscenity and pornography cases on behalf of clients such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Playboy, Penthouse and the largest distributor of hard-core pornographic movies.
Am I missing something? Remember when tax evasion was a crime? Remember when porn was bad? Remember when ethics actually mattered in our choices for politicians? Remember when there were expected moral standards for leaders? Remember when politicians were role models? (Now I'm dating myself!)
Call me Pollyannaish, but I believe leadership should be exemplary. I believe leadership should be above reproach. And if Obama can't find ethical criteria for choosing other politicians, then let me pass along some advice from our Founding Fathers.
Ethics (the practice of morality) is the foundation of a healthy character, family and country. If ethics wane, the people -- and eventually the nation -- follow. As Founding Father Elias Boudinot once said, "If the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow."